History

A brief history of Kent

Sam Collins

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Formed 1859
First-class debut 1870
Admitted to Championship1890
County Championship 1906, 1909, 1910, 1913, 1970, 1977(Shared), 1978
Gillette/NatWest/C&G 1967, 1974
Benson & Hedges 1973, 1976, 1978
Sunday League 1972, 1973, 1976, 1995, 2001
Twenty20 2007

It is said that for 250 years the history of Kent cricket was really the history of cricket. The first tentative reference of the game, re creag in 1300, makes tentative reference to Newenden in Kent. Many of the limited references to cricket during the 17th century come from Kent, and the first accepted county game is their 1709 encounter with Surrey at Dartford. Later in the century, under the patronage of Sir Horace Mann, they proved the chief rivals to Hambledon.

The formation of the original Kent County Cricket Club took place in Canterbury in August 1842, and played its initial first-class match against All-England that same month. On March 1 1859 there was a substantial reorganisation and the present Kent CCC was formed. Kent had been proclaimed Champion County in 1837, and held the title through most of the 1840s. However, they did not claim it again before the formation of the County Championship as we know it in 1890.

Kent were dominant in the decade leading up to World War One, winning the title four times in eight years under the captaincy of Cloudesley Marsham and Ted Dillon, with the bowling of Colin Blythe to the fore. They challenged consistently during the inter-war years without winning the title, despite having players of the quality of Tich Freeman, Frank Woolley, Percy Chapman, Wally Hardinge and Les Ames. Freeman was a slow bowler of the highest order, the only bowler ever to take 300 wickets in a season, at the age of 40 in 1928, and he went on to take 200 wickets in each of the next six seasons. Woolley is one of the greatest allrounders the game has known, and Ames the original batsman-wicketkeeper who achieved the wicketkeepers' double of 100 wickets and 1000 runs in 1928 and 1929, with the sight of him stumping a batsman off Freeman one of the most common of the era.

Kent did not challenge again until the 1970s, when, under Colin Cowdrey and then Mike Denness they claimed ten trophies in the decade, including the Championship in 1970, 1977(shared) and 1978. Brian Luckhurst, Bob Woolmer and Asif Iqbal starred with the bat while Alan Knott maintained Kent's fine wicketkeeping tradition.

There was then a period of underachievement with the Sunday League titles of 1995 and 2001 the only successes, and the demise of the famous St Lawrence Ground Lime tree in 2005 signalled the need for re-growth. The hard work paid off and they began experts at Twenty20, winning the tournament in 2007.

Sam Collins is a freelance journalist based in Lomdon

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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